Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Magician King by Lev Grossman

Yeah, I got a little sidetracked with renovating my house (new carpet and new paint job in all the bedrooms FTW). In any case, I'm glad I had more time to figure out how I feel about The Magician King. I didn't think it would be possible, but Lev Grossman actually managed to outdo himself, and write a better story than The Magicians. This sequel shies away from the magical arts and Harry Potter-esque feel of the original, and steers more toward other-world, Narnia type fantasy story. He doesn't just drop important parts of the story, however. Everything ties very nicely into both Earth and Fillory, and Grossman manages to make me even more sympathetic towards his characters than it should be possible. They are fictional, after all. Grossman gets 5 out of 5 stars for channeling his inner Lewis, Rowling, and Tolkien, and creating such a realistic take on magic and fantasy lands.

First off, Grossman's characters are very easy to relate to and to identify with, even if they're fresh from magical college and have spent 2 years ruling a magical land called Fillory. I couldn't help but feel some type of pathetic pity for Quentin (because honestly, who becomes king of their paradise, and get everything he wanted, and still pine for more?!), and truly wish for him to succeed on his quest throughout this book. The same for Julia, who I at first thought was cold and utterly devoid of emotion, and who I learn through flashbacks is in fact cold and utterly devoid of emotion. But, at least I understand where that really came from, and her backstory is written so well in this novel. The back and forth between present day and her past added a lot to the story, and while it was sometimes difficult for me to remember what I left off at, I quickly got right back into the plot.

The ending of The Magician King, however, leaves a little to be desired. Or, maybe I'm just used to everybody getting a happy ending. I really just feel sorry for ______ (leaving out names is my way of avoiding spoiling the book, clearly), in that he/she was just kind of left in the cold while everybody else (presumably) lives happily ever after. I really, really, REALLY hope Grossman writes another tale of Fillory, because it's killing me just knowing _______ was basically left on his/her own with nobody, no friends or home or anything.

Still, though, I have to give Grossman major points for getting me so emotionally invested in what happens to these characters. I think some authors gloss over character development in an effort to keep their novels light and the plots fast paced, but this was a very well-written story that moves along seamlessly, while continuing to develop characters and make them multifaceted and more realistic than some real people I have met. 5 out of 5 stars, and I will continue hoping for another Grossman novel until I am obliged.

Justin :)

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